College football upset alert: Expert picks for Week 12 underdogs with best odds to win

The best moments in college football usually come in the form of upsets. Such as, when a team like Kansas, arguably the worst Power 5 program of the past decade, takes down the richest team in college football, Texas.

But when the winning, overtime play is made by a walk-on who has yet to play offense all season, and his parents have the thing on some shaky i-phone video from the opposite end zone, well, it goes to another level.

As you know by now, we love the upset here at the Underdog Challenge, and we try to spot them before they happen. The rules of our contest are as follows: Each expert picks three upsets per week. If the upset hits, the expert gets the amount of points of the final point spread. So if a 10-point underdog wins, it is 10 points to whoever predicted it.

Here are our standings through Week 11.

On to the upsets.

Odds courtesy FanDuel.com

Bill Bender, Lead college football writer

No. 3 Oregon (+2.5) at No. 23 Utah

The Ducks are supposed to be a playoff team, right? This is one of those double-take lines given the spots in the rankings, but Oregon should be able to have enough success on the ground with Anthony Brown and Travis Dye to offset the tough road environment. Oregon keeps its playoff hopes alive.

USC (+3.5) vs. UCLA

USC had a bye week to prepare for the Bruins. It’s been a season of disappointing losses at the Los Angeles Coliseum, but the Trojans have won the last three there. In a rivalry that should register more than it does, USC keeps its bowl hopes alive.

South Carolina (+7.5) vs. Auburn

The Tigers will be without quarterback Bo Nix, who suffered a broken ankle in last week’s loss to Mississippi State. The Gamecocks are fighting for bowl eligiblity, and they are 4-1 at Williams-Brice Stadium this season. A cover seems given, but we like the outright upset.

Mike DeCourcy, Senior writer

SMU (+11.5) at Cincinnati

It has been a while since the Bearcats were allowed merely to be a football team and not a cause, and it does seem like it’s wearing on them. They’re dealing with the absurdity of the College Football (Invitational) rankings that keep them out of the coveted top-4 positions. They’re dealing with the burden of perfection that has opposing coaches on-side kicking and running Wildcat plays and flea-flickers they’ve never showed on film and transacting all sorts of folly to try to unsettle the Bearcats and become the one that knocked UC from the unbeaten ranks. My guess: It’s been so long since Cincinnati played an actual football team trying to play actual football, they’ll have forgotten how to do it when the Mustangs arrive Saturday afternoon at Nippert Stadium.

USC (+3.5) vs. UCLA

So the Trojans are getting more than a field goal on their home field against an archrival that’s sitting there with a 6-4 record with some in the media wondering if the Bruins need a new coach, as well? And analysts still are trying to sell USC as one of the best jobs in college football? This is a place that’s had more interim coaches in the past decade (three) than major bowl bids (one). If the Trojans can’t complete an assignment this meager, why are we to believe they again will rise to the heights achieved by Matt Leinhart, Reggie Bush and Pete Carroll?

Missouri (+9.5) vs. Florida

It has not been a great week for Mizzou athletics. Their men’s basketball team got embarrassed by one of their own hypens – that’s right, UMKC came into Columbia and drilled the Tigers’ men’s basketball team, 80-66. Now the Tigers have Florida coming in off three consecutive FBS losses – and don’t even bring up the absurdity of allowing 52 points to a school with fewer than 6,000 students and a losing record in FCS football – and Mizzou is an underdog! Can it get worse? Yes, the Tigers could lose this one. I say they won’t.

Bill Trocchi, Senior editor

No. 13 Wake Forest (+4.5) at Clemson

Wake needs a win this week or next to clinch the ACC Atlantic and a berth in the ACC championship game. Wake (44.7) is averaging over 20 more points per game than Clemson (24.4) and giving up around 14 points more. I like the Demon Deacons chances to outsore a Clemson offense that hasn’t quite gotten in sync against P5 competition.

SMU (+11.5) at No. 5 Cincinnati

Cincinnati has been flirting with its first loss at different points over the last month. Now, it plays the best team it has faced since Notre Dame. SMU has the No. 1 scoring offense in the AAC and has a win over TCU on its resume. Cincinnati is the rightful favorite, but the pressure to ‘impress’ the committee has seemingly affected this team in a negative way.

No. 3 Oregon (+2.5) at No. 23 Utah

This line is confusing, no? This game will certainly be a challenge for the Ducks, but is Utah a tougher place to win than Ohio State? I know it was a while ago, but Oregon has the best road win of the season on its resume already. Oregon has played well the last few weeks after a couple of close calls. Should be a good one, but Oregon has the better team.

Zac Al-Khateeb, Content producer

No. 7 Michigan State (+19.5) at No. 4 Ohio State

Yes, the Buckeyes have five straight wins in this series. But consider the circumstances of the Spartans’ last victory over Ohio State, when No. 9 Michigan State beat No. 3 Ohio State 17-14 victory in Columbus in 2015. Sound familiar? The Spartans defense needs some timely stops against C.J. Stroud, TreVeyon Henderson and that talented trio of receivers. But the Buckeyes will face a huge test themselves in defending Kenneth Walker III, who leads the nation in rushing and is tied for the national lead in rushing scores. He’ll also lead the Spartans to another close victory.

No. 10 Wake Forest (+4.5) at Clemson

Wake Forest is the best bet to win the ACC Atlantic division. To that end, a win over the Tigers would not only clinch the division title, but also serve as a statement victory over the ACC’s premier program. Wake Forest will put its strength — the offense — against a Clemson defense that has been a bright spot for the program in 2021. If it can keep a struggling Tigers offense from scoring — one that will be without receiver Justyn Ross — then the Demon Deacons can finally claim divisional supremacy. They won’t have to wait another week to do so.

Missouri (+9.5) vs. Florida

This pick has less to do with Missouri and everything to do with Florida. The Gators are reeling under Dan Mullen, and at no point was that more evident this season than in Florida’s 70-52 win over Samford. Prior to that, it was outscored 114-66 by LSU, No. 1 Georgia and South Carolina, all losses. (The Tigers and Gamecocks are a combined 9-11 on the season). Missouri hasn’t been a world beater in 2021, but you don’t have to be anywhere near that level to beat the Gators this year. The Tigers win and set off a full-fledged panic in Gainesville.

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